Oklahoma junior offensive lineman Austin Woods has been named as one of seven national finalists for the 2013 Rare Disease Champion Award, the Uplifting Athletes organization announced today.
The Rare Disease Champion Award is given to a leader in college football, individual or organization, who has realized his or her potential to make a positive and lasting impact on the rare disease community.
Online voting is currently underway at http://www.upliftingathletes.org/rare-disease-champion/vote. Voting will continue through Jan. 31, with the winner being announced on Feb. 1.
Woods earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors for the second consecutive season in 2012 and served as the Sooners' deep snapper on placements for a third straight campaign.
The Rockwall, Texas, native experienced an unexplained sore throat through spring ball. Then, the glands in his neck got swollen and sore. The immediate thoughts were strep or perhaps mononucleosis. Tests ruled those out. More tests revealed that he had Stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Less than two weeks after OU's spring practices ended the 6-4, 293-pound lineman found himself at the Stephenson Cancer Center in Oklahoma City undergoing four hours of chemotherapy every other week. Despite the diagnosis, Woods did not miss any games due to his condition. He underwent his final chemotherapy session on Oct. 1, and on Nov. 1, he was informed that his cancer was in remission.
Uplifting Athletes is a national nonprofit organization aligning college football with rare diseases and raising them as a national priority through outreach, research, education and advocacy. The chapter network of Uplifting Athletes is operated by current football student-athletes, providing them with an opportunity to gain practical job skills, while learning how to leverage their assets and abilities to make a positive and lasting impact.